Sunday, April 2, 2017

DMRRC 2017 Visit Prep

My photo club field trip to the DMRRC is this week.  Time to get ready.
Last year I had new camera, and a new strategy.  This year if something goes wrong, I don't have those excuses.
This year I am using new software for my remote tethering.  I've been working with it for a few months so that can't be too much of an excuse.
There could be a new and unexpected twist.  I'm comfortable with the D7200 and the Helicon Remote software.  I haven't worked that much with the D90 and the software, so was down in the dungeon putting that configuration through its paces.
The D90 is not wi-fi capable, so had to use USB cable.  Not a big issue.  What I did discover is that in some configurations the Remote software will not save to the camera.  The table I'm using has about 6 GB of space available - I need to save to the camera or at the very least save to the tablet's external card.  If I changed the my thoughts and had all the images sent to the tablet, either USB or wi-fi, that adds a lot of time to the shooting process.  I do like the idea of sending a image tot he tablet, only for verification.  But i want the RAW image to stay on the camera, both for speed considerations and file size.
Fortunately there is a setting on the Remote software as to what to do with the image(s).  This setting will send the JPG image to the tablet and will save the RAW image to the camera.  I tested on both the D90 and the D7200 and it worked well.  Cuts the stacking process by more than 50%.  Huge.
The next change will be I will start off using the 85 mm lens (AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR
85mm f/3.5G ED VR).  The lens I used last year, my go to 18-200 did are real nice job.  I thought i would use it again.  But as i was int he dungeon for a few hours, I decided to see if there was a difference in the lens with respect to clarity.  yea, I know.  With a prime lens I should always get better clarity.  I just didn't know how much.  And now I know.
The subject is the underside of a PC disk drive, the circuit board.  This looks like a really good subject for focus stacking.
Both shots are 30 shot stacks.  For the display, the area that is shown is at 100% magnification.  i tried to get as many environmental settings as close as possible.  The camera and the subject were not intentionally moved.  Both shots were with the D7200.  ISO is 100.
The first shot is with the 18-200 lens.  The focal length turned out to be 150mm.  This is f/6.3 at 1/25 second.



Reality is, this isn't all that bad.  (Or so I thought.)  I accept the challenges of small sensors and some what limited lenses.  Unless I'm going to enlarge this to a wall sized photo, this will look good.

Until.

This is the 85mm prime lens.  Same speed and f/stop.  Same number of photos in the stack.




Based on this information, I will start with the 85mm lens - until it doesn't work.

I will do more prep this week.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Back to the Detroit Model Railroad Club - 2017

In a few weeks, my Photo Club will be heading out to the DMRRC for a return visit.  Personally, I had a lot of fun last year.  The DMRRC members who were out that night were just wonderful.  Like most places as soon as I left when we were done, I know I left so many shots out there.  Fortunately, I get another crack at them.

Last year I worked with focus stacking.  While most of my shots lacked train aesthetics, but technically they were good.

I've been asked by the Club to lead a discussion in our next meeting about the photo shoot.  Most of our members are outdoor photographers and being inside is a stretch.  

From talking with Club members after the 2016 visit, many said they didn't understand why the shots appeared out of focus.  That seemed to be the number one challenge.

I've been out to the DMRRC a few times in the last weeks.  I was in with the paying public, I didn't have the freedom to do focus stacking in these visits - as well as the trains were now in motion.  Well, this stinks.

In my first visit this year, I shot maybe 300 images - and only two came out that were any good.  And guess what - they were all fuzzy - like out of focus.  And then it hit me what the problem was.  Depth of Field.  I could usually find some point that was sharp - just not the point I wanted.


Unless this engine is getting ready to hit a fog bank, the focus starts to come in about two to three inches behind the front of the unit.  This is a clear miss on my part.  I'll bet I hit the front with the focus point and as I moved the camera back to center the subject, I held on the focus and it moved.  Rookie mistakes.......  Well that mystery solved.  But this illustrates how shallow the depth of filed can be.

So....  Speaking of Depth of Field, working inside is a real challenge.  The lighting isn't too bad but far from ideal.  You are shooting short distances to subject with high lens mm settings.  For example, if you shoot f/8 at 30 inches to subject with an 85mm lens - your DOF is essentially one inch.  Which coincidentally is just about right on for the image above. 

So the first points to the club are this.  Be sure of your focus point and have a strategy to deal with Depth of Field.  

One of the environmental factors is the subjects will more than likely not be moving.  They will be staged as requested.  So the speed question is reduced.  Even better if you bring a tripod.  I used a bean bag on the track last year.

Also, I will be focus stacking again this year.  I've gone over this with the Club a few times, hope they stayed awake.

Next up:  Increasing ISO if necessary.  (And it might be.)


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hole Drill

Nikon is running a sale on two lenses - theoretically for close up work.  Both are prime.  One is a 35mm and the other is a 85mm Micro.  Nikon is calling its macro a micro lens.  Whatever, as long as it works.  

Yep, bought them this weekend.

I bought a 50mm last year - and it really wasn't doing the trick for me.  I was using it primarily for portrait work of which I don't do very much.  But I couldn't get the family picture right.  So - I'm going to a 35 mm.  As to the 85mm micro, I don't have anything to do real close up work.  With this lens, I can get close ups just under a foot away.  with my other lenses, I'm looking at another six inches away.  Doesn't sound like much, but.....

So today is play day.  My subject is a common hole cutting drill.  Truth be told, I had six different sets of shots.  Either the expose wasn't right, the tilt wasn't right or the lights didn't do the trick for me.  But stuck with it.

This is a 36 shot focus stack with the 85mm lens.  ISO 100, f/5.6, .3 Sec.  I shot this in RAW and the post work was in Photoshop.  The object is placed on a white poster-board.


As most of my efforts are HDR and somewhat 'soft', this is quite different.